aspen grove{Ephesians 4:20-24; ESV}
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The way of Jesus does not come naturally to us. It is something that we must learn.

One of the first truths that we need to learn if we are going to follow the way of Jesus is that following Jesus does not come naturally to us. Following Jesus requires a change in our thinking, in our values, in our priorities, and in our behavior. This change can’t happen by our will power, it is the result of being redeemed.

This means that salvation begins and ends with God. Without God we would have no hope of redemption, and thus we would not be empowered to follow Jesus. God is the one who took the initiative to save us, and we can be confident that He will finish what He started. God brings transformation into our lives through the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings healing and guidance to our lives so our faith can grow and mature. We must always remember that God does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.

The second truth we need to learn if we are going to follow Jesus is that God has certain expectations on how we are to live. What this means is that we can’t just say that “I believe in Jesus,” and then live any way that we choose. Our lives need to conform to God’s expectations.

God created us to reflect His character into this world. We are not able to reflect God’s love, grace, forgiveness, compassion, and mercy into the world, if we do not live according to His will. Since this is important, God has promised to help us. He has redeemed us through Jesus, and He guides us through the Holy Spirit.

The way we are able to put off the old and be renewed is by making a choice. This is where our side of redemption begins. We don’t have enough will power and strength to make these types of changes, but we do have the ability to repent. Repentance is the choice that we make to denounce our participation with the kingdom of darkness, and declare our allegiance to the Kingdom of Light. Through repentance we humbly surrender our lives to God. That is where the great work of putting off and putting on begins.

Consider what author Dallas Willard wrote:

The vitality and power of Christianity is lost when we fail to integrate our bodies into its practice by intelligent, conscious, choice and steadfast intent. It is with our bodies we receive the new life that comes as we enter his Kingdom…If we are to participate in the reign of God, it can only be by our actions. And our actions are physical—we live only in the process of our bodies. To withhold our bodies from religion is to exclude religion from our lives. (The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 31)

The choice of repentance begins to make a difference in our lives as we choose to participate in other actions that make spiritual transformation possible. Actions such as the regular study of the Bible, worship, prayer, generous giving, and selfless service. Through these actions we create space in our lives for God to work and for us to experience His power in our lives. Our part in the redemption process is the choice to surrender our lives to God.

You and I need to trust God for our salvation. The reason why we can find security in our salvation is because redemption depends on what God has done in Jesus Christ; not in what we have done. If the foundation of redemption was on what we have done, then we could never feel secure about salvation, because we would always wonder if we have done enough.

The trust we have in God for salvation is not seen in the words that we say, but the choices that we make.(Tweet this) These choices manifest themselves into action, and through these actions we bring God’s loving rule into this world. The type of faith that results in redemption is made up of trusting God, which in turn, influences the choices that we make.

Questions to consider:

  • Why doesn’t following Jesus come naturally to us?
  • How does God make redemption a reality in our lives?
  • What is our part in the redemption process?
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